CONNECTING THE DOTS FOR DETROIT ARTS SCENE
THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2012
Dominic Arellano says his organization, Forward Arts, is unoriginal because it builds off other people’s ideas, but he might be one of the most innovative people in Detroit.
Launched in 2010, Forward Arts assists other organizations and artists by helping with communication, administration, promotion, event development and fundraising. Think of Forward Arts as a manager/agent for Detroit artists, musicians and public art projects.
“One of the biggest strengths our organization has is being able to connect the dots,” Arellano said. “We’re right in the middle of the graffiti artists and DIA (Detroit Institute of Art) and we understand how to work with both sides. We understand how to connect them and when not to connect them.”
Sometimes Arellano approaches artists and organizers, sometimes they approach him, but every Forward Arts project develops through connection. One of Arellano’s first partnerships was with Access Arts, which is now under the Forward Arts umbrella. The Belle Isle Art exhibit, which is managed by Access Arts, caught Arellano’s attention. Now Forward Arts helps Access Arts raise funds for projects and artists.
Last year, Forward Arts also partnered with Woodbridge Neighborhood Development (WNDC) Corporation President Brian Shellabarger, on the Scripps Park Project.
“There are three sides to this,” Arellano said. “To help artists get opportunities, help arts organizations with development and resource development and helping creators — someone who has a great idea and wants to scale it up.”
Movement through Music
Arellano loves music and he loves to organize, but he’s not a musician. He managed bands in high school and didn’t learn to play an instrument until he was forced to take piano lessons as part of his bachelor’s in Music Business Management from Wayne State.
While in school, he worked at the Detroit record store, Harmony House, a position that led to an internship with Universal Music and Video Distribution.
“No genres, just good music,” Arellano said about his diverse resume. “If it’s good music it’s good music.”
“The reason I moved to Detroit and the reason I feel a lot of people are Detroit curious is because of music,” Arellano said. “I’m not going to say it’s going to bring back the city — there’s no silver bullet — but when you talk about getting that initial momentum going, in Detroit, it was music.”
Detroit’s Sound Stage
“Forward Arts is really an extension of what we did at the record label,” Arellano said. “I had all these ideas that were outside of music and more geared towards art or non-profit work.”
Forward Arts’ broad mission to help Detroit artists have left it open to some pretty incredible projects.
In 2010, Arellano connected with world-renowned artist Matthew Barney through New Music Detroit. Barney needed musicians for the film and performance, KHU, which he was producing in Detroit. Through his network, Arellano and Forward Arts connected Barney to 50 artists.
“We want to create an infrastructure specifically so we can be giving more opportunity to artists,” Arellano said.